Nintendo Switch Online lacks N64 Controller Pak support, so hackers added it

Mario Kart 64
(Image credit: Nintendo)

Hackers have found a way to add Controller Pak support to Nintendo Switch Online's N64 collection, available via the premium Expansion Pack tier, allowing players to save certain games and activate other features such as saving time trial ghosts in Mario Kart 64.

As reported by VGC (opens in new tab), notable Switch hacker LuigiBlood took to Twitter (opens in new tab) to explain how to hack N64 Controller Pak support into Nintendo Switch Online, and in so doing, showing that the functionality exists in the emulator's code.

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Users on Twitter added that while they could get Controller Pak functionality to work on Nintendo Switch Online's N64 games, the saved data doesn't remain when closing the game. However, the emulator's built-in save state feature did maintain the data for later use.

Unfortunately, the major caveat is that the hack isn't possible on a retail Nintendo Switch. At least, not one that's fresh out of the box. Instead, a modified Switch is required, the setup process of which comes with its own set of risks, including bricking your console. As such, we couldn't recommend the process in good conscience if you're even the least bit risk averse.

The good news, though, is that the hackers' efforts show that Nintendo Switch Online's N64 emulator does indeed have Controller Pak functionality - it's just not currently enabled on the service.

That being said, with additions and improvements coming to the N64 service - such as improved performance for The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time - there's every chance that Nintendo will eventually enable Controller Pak support.

This would be pretty fantastic, as the N64 collection feels a little incomplete without Controller Pak support. Some games, like WinBack: Covert Operations, require Controller Pak support in order to create a save file. The only current option for players in that regard is to create a save state, which gets the job done, but probably isn't what developer Omega Force intended for normal progression in the game.

As mentioned, it would also allow for the saving of ghost data in Mario Kart 64's time trials, a feature that - without the use of hacking - is completely unavailable to Switch Online players at the time of writing.

There's gameplay benefits to this, too, as the enabling of Controller Pak support could breathe some new life into Mario Kart 64's time trial community, which has been kept alive by speedrunners to this day. And ultimately, we'll take anything that makes the wait for Mario Kart 9 that much easier.

Rhys Wood
Hardware Writer

Rhys is Hardware Writer for TechRadar Gaming, and while relatively fresh to the role, he's been writing in a professional capacity for years. A Media, Writing and Production graduate, Rhys has prior experience creating written content for app developers, IT firms, toy sellers and the main TechRadar site. His true passions, though, lie in video games, TV, audio and home entertainment. When Rhys isn't on the clock, you'll usually find him logged into Final Fantasy 14, Halo Infinite or Sea of Thieves.